Combustible Celluloid
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With: Leo Fuchs, Eve Gordon, Lou Jacobi, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Elizabeth Perkins, Joan Plowright, Kevin Pollak, Aidan Quinn, Israel Rubinek, Elijah Wood, Curtis Carnathan, Tom Wood, Ronald Guttman
Written by: Barry Levinson
Directed by: Barry Levinson
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 128
Date: 10/05/1990

Avalon (1990)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Cutting the Toikey

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The third in Barry Levinson's "Baltimore" series, Avalon is a sweet, sentimental trip through time, focusing on routines as well as on bumps in the road, and smoothly coated in Allen Daviau's lush, Oscar-nominated cinematography. It begins as Sam Krichinsky comes to America in 1914, a refrain heard many times, on the Fourth of July, wandering the streets lit up by fireworks. (He's wonderfully played by Armin Mueller-Stahl in the present day.) He joins his four brothers and they begin to raise their families in the new world. There's a Thanksgiving ritual in which one brother is always late, and one year he is a bit too late, which starts a small feud ("You cut the toikey witout me?"). Older cousins Jules (Aidan Quinn) and Izzy (Kevin Pollak) attempt to capture the American dream by opening a department store; they also get in trouble for shortening their last names. Television becomes a driving influence in the slow disintegration of the family unit. Little Elijah Wood would have been about 8 or 9 while making this, playing Jules' son, stung by bees. The overall effect is warm, sweet, and sad, all at once. Other Oscar nominations included Best Screenplay, Best Score (Randy Newman), and Best Costume Design.

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